Neighborly Nations

Neighborly Nations lesson plan

Locks, channels, canals! The St. Lawrence Seaway represents a long-standing cooperative spirit between two nations. Create a pop-up yacht to celebrate the Seaway’s success.

  • 1.

    Read about the history of the St. Lawrence Seaway, the largest inland waterway in the world. Look at maps to find its location. Study illustrations to learn about the construction of the locks, channels, and canals.

  • 2.

    The St. Lawrence Seaway was a joint project of the United States and Canada. It was completed in 1959 and was officially opened on June 26. England’s Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower, Canadian Prime Minister John G. Diefenbaker and his wife Olive, 50,000 spectators, and 5,000 official guests were there for the opening. After the ceremonies, the Queen and President boarded her yacht Britannia and passed through specially constructed gates to celebrate the symbolic opening of the waterway.

  • 3.

    The St. Lawrence Seaway links the Atlantic Ocean and the St. Lawrence River to Lake Ontario and the four upper Great Lakes of North America. It extends from Montreal to Lake Erie. The waterway is open to navigation from late March to late December. It is 2,038 nautical miles (3,700 km) long. The Seaway is a system of canals, locks, and channels that make up the world’s most spectacular lift system. Ships measuring up to 740 ft (225.5 m) long and 78 ft (23.8 m) wide are easily raised to more than 180 m above sea level, as high as a 60-story building! These ships can carry cargo equal to 1,000 loaded cement trucks. The locks fill with 91 million liters of water in just over 10 minutes. Getting through a lock takes about 45 minutes.

  • 4.

    Here’s one way to make a pop-up illustration of the U.S. President and Queen Elizabeth II on her yacht. You might choose another scene to illustrate, or use a different way to do your project. Use your imagination!

  • 5.

    Start with a closed recycled file folder. To make the pop-out prow of the ship, use Crayola® Erasable Colored Pencils to draw a green dot on the fold, about 1 inch (2.5 cm) from the top. Draw a red dot at the very top of the folder, 2 3/4 inches (10.8 cm)

  • 6.

    3 cm), and make another green dot. Draw a straight line from one green dot to the other. 6. Draw a green dot on the fold, 1 1/2 inches (3.8 cm) from the bottom of the file folder, and another green dot 2 1/2 inches (6.3 cm) to the right of it. Draw a st

  • 7.

    Draw a vertical dotted line from the end of one cut to the end of the other. Fold front and back carefully on the dotted line. Open the file folder. Pop out the pentagon (five-sided shape). This is the prow, or front, of the royal yacht. Trim off the fold

  • 8.

    Use Crayola Washable Markers to color the Britannia and the sky. With Crayola Gel Markers, draw and color the locks beside and behind the yacht. To color the seawater, layer colors and vary your marker strokes.

  • 9.

    On white paper, draw President Eisenhower and Queen Elizabeth II. Make sure they are dressed appropriately for the occasion! Color the figures and cut them out. Glue the people in place with a Crayola Glue Stick.

  • 10.

    Draw the British flag. Color and cut it out. Glue it to the scene.


  • Students research the history, geography, and facts surrounding the construction, opening, and use of the St. Lawrence Seaway.
  • Students use the information gathered to create a representation of the St. Lawrence Seaway opening ceremonies or any other scene related to its construction or function.
  • Students apply precise measuring and cut-paper techniques to create a pop-up scene.


  • Create an illustrated timeline of events during the planning, completion, and dedication of the St. Lawrence Seaway.
  • Design a travel brochure to entice people to visit the various beautiful destinations along the Seaway. Include a map and points of interest.
  • Study other feats of civil engineering and international cooperation, such as construction of the Panama or Suez Canals, or building international bridges or tunnels.